Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is probably the second best Austrian city I’ve visited after Linz. Getting there on the train was easy from where I was staying at Aqua Salza in Golling but the walk into Salzburg itself was a little boring, through a housing estate and industrial area. Hey ho it was only about a half hour and by the time I got to the riverside I realised I should have headed straight for the river, then walked along it as it’s much nicer than the shorter route. Lesson learned.

The day I visited was a hot day in the high 30 degrees so leaving Jack behind simply wasn’t an option. It’s good that he was allowed on the train although I had to pay €2 for him as well as the €6.40 for me, which I found out just in time.

An elderly couple were struggling with the ticket machine at Golling, and there was no staff around to help so eventually they stood back to allow me to get my ticket. They indicated they wanted to watch so I showed them how to buy a ticket and it barely registered in the back of my mind that I had seen an option for a dog for €2. I got my ticket and set off for the tunnel to get to the other platform for my train.

It preyed on my mind and after 10 minutes, with only 5 remaining before the train was due I went back to the machine, just to check I had the right ticket. The elderly couple were still there but happily managed to get their tickets after a minute or so. I checked and sure enough it was €2 extra for the dog! So I quickly bought a ticket for him and ran out to see the train pulling in. I scooted through the tunnel and got on the train with a minute to spare…phew! 

I think the main thing I liked about Salzburg was it’s sense of age. The city is modern in parts of course but the old town is left untouched. Wherever you go world wide there tends to be an old town. There is clearly a reason for this; people like to visit to see how traditional cities used to be and for me, how cities ought still to look, even if constructed in modern materials.

I do find it slightly amusing that the legendary Mozart's birthplace is now a Spar shop. Great marketing?
I do find it slightly amusing that the legendary Mozart’s birthplace is now a Spar shop. Great marketing?

There are many locations around the world where cities build new buildings using older style designs but with new building materials. Troyes in France is an excellent example of this and you have to actually touch those buildings to be able to convince yourself they are not ancient. Surely this says something about modern architecture and it’s unappealing aesthetic to the majority of people?

It’s almost comical and slightly incongruous to see that such a world wide famous composer like Mozart lived in a house that is now home to a Spar. Spar in the UK is synonymous with crowded shops selling a limited range of goods at very high prices mostly in run down council estates. To see the logo of Spar and then the sign saying “Mozarts birthplace” is odd but at least they have retained the old style of the building from the outside. 

Another interesting thing I didn’t know was that the cemetery used in the Sound of Music where Rolf finds them hiding was a set built at a movie studio in America. The cemetery really exists as you can see in my photos and though it inspired the one in the movie it was not used for filming. They built a set back in the studios in the USA for the filming. Also the opening scene where Maria sings the Sound of Music while dancing on a hill was actually filmed in Germany. Only a few miles from Salzburg, but such is artistic licence.

I was lucky enough to arrive at St Peters Basilica as a carriage arrived to carry a bride and groom who had just got married to their reception. It was lovely to see the marching band in full dress and how the wedding party accepted the public around them and did not mind at all people milling around and taking photos. It reminded me of a wedding I saw in Florence. Apparently it is custom for the bride and groom to walk through the city there, hand in hand and passersby will clap them and congratulate them. It was absolutely joyous to see such public love and respect and the wedding in Salzburg reminded me of that. 

There was one odd encounter. A lady approached me in the cemetery and stated that dogs weren’t allowed inside. I found that really odd because there were at least a half dozen people at that precise moment wandering with dogs. We all had them on a leash so quite why she chose to challenge me I have no idea. I was very respectful but explained that there were no signs anywhere at all that disbarred dogs so I would wait for an official to tell me that it was not allowed. 

She then proceeded to tell me a story about an American air force pilot who fought during the war and was given the honour of being buried in the cemetery, a high honour not usually given to people not native to the city. I’ve no idea if it’s true but it made a lovely story. She also told me that once buried there someone must pay rent every year, and if it doesn’t get paid you get dug up and reburied in a municipal cemetery! Incidentally dogs aren’t allowed in the catacombs so I missed that trip sadly, something to do in the future methinks 🙂

Although there is lots to do in Salzburg I’d limited myself to visiting the old town and I would definitely visit again and do the same thing.

As always, this is not a travel blog, this is more like a personal journal. If you wish to know what to do in Salzburg just google “What to do in Salzburg” and there are a hundred ideas, you don’t need me to tell you where to go and what to see. My blog unlike some was not designed to be a travel guide, but is more about my recollections of travelling on a more personal level and the interesting people and experiences I have while travelling.

Where I stayed: Aqua Salza, Golling an der Salzach, Hallein, Salzburg, Austria, 5440, N47.595879, W13.171677, €9.90 per night, €1 for 80 litres of water, max 5 nights. Train station 5 minutes away.

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